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  • Jess Harrell

Beyond Ordinary: The Magic of Unique Kitchen Island Designs


Close your eyes and think of a kitchen island. What do you see? Probably a wooden rectangle with cabinet doors on one side and a slab of stone on top. Pretty standard. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional island! But what if you long for something more than that? Today, I'm turning the conventional kitchen island on its head and exploring some unique designs with unconventional use of materials, different layouts, and alternative shapes.



Unique Kitchen Island Design Idea #1 - Use the Same Material All Over


Jess Harrell, Interior Designer Northern Virginia-Unique kitchen island design idea
Design by AO/JN Interiors

Holy moly, I think I've died and gone to heaven! This island is made entirely of dramatically veined marble. It is so striking and unusual. And let's not forget the detail on the base. The staggered inverted steps make it even more of a standout focal point. This is a super cool approach if you don't need the added storage with cabinets on your island.


Jess Harrell, Interior Designer Northern Virginia-Unique kitchen island design idea
Design by Spaces by Jill | Photography by Mr. Frank

Hello, Barbie-core! This island is entirely clad in subway tile, a more wallet-friendly option than the marble one above. While classic white subway tile would have been a safe bet, the designer fearlessly embraced a bold and vibrant pink, injecting a burst of personality and playfulness into the space. And I love how the designer chose to lay the base and top tile in opposite directions.



Unique Kitchen Island Design Idea #2- Skip the Barstools


Jess Harrell, Interior Designer Northern Virginia-Unique kitchen island design idea
Source: Wall Street Journal

Talk about an ingenious design. This kitchen island includes a built-in banquette integrated seamlessly into one side of the island, completely ignoring the conventional barstool seating. It offers a level of coziness that instantly draws people in, and the increased seating accommodates more people than barstools ever could. It's also a great use of space because it eliminates the need for additional dining furniture in the kitchen. Here for it. Love it.



Jess Harrell, Interior Designer Northern Virginia-Unique kitchen island design idea
Elle Decor | Photography by Brian Ferry

Here's another departure from the traditional barstools at the island setup. This kitchen brought the open-shelf look to the island, creating an open, airy, spacious environment. The black and white patterns on the shelf bottoms add personality and charm. The built-in bookshelf is definitely my favorite detail here. It isn't just a useful feature but a chance for the homeowner to express their interests and passions.



Unique Kitchen Island Design Idea #3- Embrace New Shapes


Jess Harrell, Interior Designer Northern Virginia-Unique kitchen island design idea
Design by Dan Gayfer Design | Photography by Dean Bradley

Forget the conventional rectangular shape with its typical angles and straight lines. Consider adding some sexy curves to your island. Just like the curve in the island above. Spectacular, isn't it? And the way that the waterfall edge spills onto the floor and down the stairs?! This is the kind of stuff that makes life worth living—just sayin.



Jess Harrell, Interior Designer Northern Virginia-Unique kitchen island design idea
Design by Sivak & Partners

Your eyes can't help but be immediately drawn to the island in the kitchen above. In stark contrast to the typical angular and straight-lined islands, the rounded shape immediately sets it apart from the rest. The gently curving corners and the round bottom feel strangely inviting, almost as if embracing the space around it, and I want to hug it. Is that strange? Don't answer that question:)



So when it comes to kitchen design, remember that the island *can be* more than just a functional element—it can be a centerpiece that reflects your style and makes the experience of living in your home that much better. You can create a kitchen island that breaks the mold by exploring unconventional options. The key is to think outside the box, be creative, and not be afraid to go where no one else has before.




Hi there!

I'm Jess Harrell, interior designer and founder of The Styled Domicile. I've got a thing for eating straight out of the pint (Netflix and Chill or The Tonight Dough, please), embarrassing my kids (trust me, they love it), and making homes and the people that live in them happier. I'm all about celebrating what makes you different and throwing ordinary out the window.

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